After tragic Bay Area freeway shootings, Newsom announces funding for cameras

OAKLAND – Following dozens of freeway shootings in the Bay Area, Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced funding to install cameras. Family members who lost loved ones say the cameras can’t come fast enough.

There were 48 freeway shootings in the Bay Area in the course of a year, all similar in that there was very little evidence left behind — just bullet casings and shattered families.

On Friday, Newsom announced funding for a network of closed-circuit cameras in the Bay Area and around the state to combat the growing problem.

Alicia Benton’s daughter, Amani Morris, was shot and killed near the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza while heading to a job interview in November. Benton is now raising her two grandsons, little boys who were in the car when their mom was shot.

She says news of cameras going up along Bay Area freeways is a prayer answered.

“I’ve cried since we’ve talked. That’s like the best news. If they were to tell me who did it, that would be even better. To know that another mother doesn’t have to sleep wondering what happened to their child, it’s the best news ever,” Benton told KPIX 5.

Seven people lost their lives in the freeway shootings, including former Cal basketball star Gene Ransom and toddler Jasper Wu.

Their families join Benton in unfathomable grief.

“Right before her was an 18-month-old baby. What did a baby do to deserve that? I pray for all of the victim’s families, because the not knowing is hard,” said Benton.

Alameda County Sheriff’s recruit David Nguyen was shot and killed in nearly the same spot as Amani in January.

Sheriff Greg Ahern lobbied the governor’s office to fund a camera network. Ahern said the loss of David, Jasper, Gene and Amani has taken a toll on his deputies.

“Even at our meetings when we talked about next steps and what we have to do and how we process these events – the room gets silent, the eyes get watery, the voices shake – as mine is shaking right now. It touches your heart,” the sheriff told KPIX 5.

The cameras will be going up in Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles and Orange counties. Ahern said the network will provide instant information on potential suspect vehicles and help provide closure to families like Amani’s. 

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